Don’t be daunted by the zebra matcha Japanese cheesecake. It only looks more difficult than it is. Read on to learn how to prepare this show-stopper!
My poor husband.
After dinner, I told him we had cheesecake in the fridge for dessert.
I then left him to put Becca to bed, and afterward, as we snuggled on the couch for our almost-nightly Netflix session, he turned to me with a slight frown.
“That wasn’t cheesecake. I couldn’t taste the cream cheese at all”
He expected a New York-style cheesecake.
Instead, he got this fluffy chiffon cake-like cake, not the cheesecake he anticipated.
So, I went back to the kitchen and made a few changes to the recipe.
The next time I offered him a slice, he looked tentative and unsure if he wanted to taste it. But, being the supportive husband that he is, he took a bite and declared it tasted better. Thank God!
Japanese cheesecake still doesn’t fit his definition of a cheesecake, but if I call it a soufflé, then he can wrap his mind around it.
Not your usual cheesecake
So I guess it’s fair to warn you that this is NOT your normal cheesecake, but something lighter and a bit different for dessert or a snack. Enjoy it with a cup of matcha latte or coffee.
With the zebra stripes inside, this cake certainly is a showstopper. When you cut into it you will see all the stripes, which is a result of the alternating white and green batter.
I’ve seen recipes for Japanese cheesecake floating around the internet for a couple of years now, and though it intrigued me, I never thought to try to bake one until I received some matcha powder from friends who had a holiday in Japan.
I knew at once that I wanted to bake a matcha Japanese cheesecake and searched for a recipe to try.
So, let’s make a Zebra Matcha Japanese Cheesecake.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You should have everything ready before you start preparing the cake batter. You will need to prepare the following:
- 9-inch/23 cm cake tin, with at least 3-inch/7.6cm sides, lined with parchment paper (see here for instructions)
- A baking pan with sides, large enough to hold the cake tin (the cheesecake will be cooked in a bain-marie or water bath)
- Two ice cream scoops/two ladles
- 2 mixing bowls, one of which should be a heat-proof bowl. Prepare one of the bowls (not the heat-proof one) for whipping the egg whites. Wipe the insides of the bowl with a paper towel and vinegar. Do the same for the beaters.
- A saucepan filled with 1-inch of simmering water
- A wire whisk
- A strainer to sift the flour and cornstarch
- Stand mixer or electric mixer – as you will need to beat the egg whites until medium stiff peaks, it might be too much work to do manually
- A kitchen scale – this provides more accurate measurement than measuring cups. I have tried to give you the cups/tablespoons measurements, but it might not be as accurate
Also, READ THIS before you start:
- The cake will need to cool down IN THE OVEN because if you will take this out, the sudden change in the temperature will cause the cake to shrink and collapse. It will still deflate to about half its size, but slowly. Don’t worry when you see your lovely tall cake come down to half its size.
- Measure out all your ingredients. Remember that you will need to divide the sugar; for the egg yolk mixture and to whip with the egg whites.
- Heat around 5 cups of water. You will need some to dissolve the matcha powder and the rest for the bain-marie.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Before you put the cake in, you will need to lower the heat to 160°C/320°F. Preheating it at a higher temperature will compensate for any heat lost when you open the oven door to put in the cake.
Get your ingredients. Measure everything first before you start. Timing is crucial as you will want to put your cake in the oven as soon as you have folded in the egg whites. The cake batter might lose volume if you don’t work fast.
I also learned from Namiko (see here) that the Japanese use cold egg whites. So, if your eggs are at room temperature, after you have separated the eggs, put the egg whites into the fridge to cool down while you’re preparing the cake.
Get your heat-proof bowl. Put in the cream cheese, milk, butter and 100 grams of sugar. Set over your saucepan with boiling water and whisk until everything is melted and lump-free.
Remove from heat. Whisk the mixture a bit more to help it cool down then add the egg yolks one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Sift the flour, cornstarch, and salt into the bowl. Fold in carefully. Set aside.
In a small bowl, put in ¼ cup of hot water and dissolve the 2 tablespoons of matcha powder. Set aside.
Remove the egg whites from the fridge and add the cream of tartar, if using.
Whisk on medium-low speed until frothy. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the rest of the sugar. Whisk until medium peaks form.
The beaten egg whites will form a soft curl when you pull out the beaters. If you’re using a hand-held mixer, check that you have beaten all the egg whites and there are no liquid egg whites left at the bottom of the bowl.
Add 1/3 of the beaten egg whites to the cream cheese mixture to loosen it up. Use a wire whisk to fold the egg whites in. Add in the rest, carefully folding in to ensure that you don’t lose most of the volume. Divide the batter evenly into two bowls. Add in the dissolved matcha to one and mix in carefully.
Into your prepared pan, alternately pour in the green and white mixtures into the middle of the pan. Use an ice cream scoop or a ladle. Start with 2 scoops of the white batter into the center of the pan. On top of the white batter, ladle in 2 scoops of the green, and then the white again, and so on. The additional batter in the middle will push the rest to the sides, making it look like a target for archery. That will form the zebra stripes. Continue until you have used up all the batter.
Carefully transfer the cake to the baking pan. Put in the oven and pour half water to come up to 1 inch/2.5cm on the side of the cake pan.
Lower the heat to 160°C/320°F. Bake for 70 minutes, and then lower the heat to 150°C/300°F and cook for another 10 minutes. The top should be a light brown. If it is browning faster than you think it should, cover with aluminum foil or put a baking tray on the top layer to shield the cake from direct heat.
Insert a skewer or toothpick into the cake to test for doneness. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Turn off the oven, leave the oven door slightly ajar and let the cake slowly shrink down to half its size. Leave in the oven for at least 30 minutes and remove from the oven and continue to let cool until room temperature.
To remove the cake from the cake pan, you will need an extra pair of hands. Pull on the parchment paper straps until the cake is released.
The cake will keep refrigerated for 3-4 days or can be frozen for up to a month.
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